18 May 2015, Lagos – Diversion of Oil and gas cargo to neighbouring countries’ ports is imminent following the recent directive by the new management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, that all oil and gas vessels should henceforth go through Intels facilities in Onne, Rivers State. Members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and others have threatened to divert oil and gas cargoes to neighbouring countries unless the directive is rescinded.
The association which decried government’s moves to grant such monopoly said that it would instruct its members and principals who handle oil and gas cargoes to henceforth direct their vessels to boycott all Intels-controlled seaports, unless the directive was reversed.
National President of the association, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, who spoke on the issue said what the Federal Government has done was very irresponsible. “What they are doing is creating a monopoly that is anti-people, and not in the interest of the economy,” he said.
“Everybody should have a choice of where they want to take their cargoes to. The government concessioned the ports, all of them (concessionaires) signed the same documents. Why do you have to force people to take their cargo to Intels…so that they can charge them in dollars, and not only that, their charges are 300 times more than regular charges in other ports.
“We have started our campaign also to call for the boycott of all Intels’ ports facilities. In addition, we are prepared to take our oil and gas goods through Cotonou. If that discrimination is going to happen, then we go through the border. “It is very unfortunate because Intels have been a problem and it is like a country, a sovereign of its own. That is because the promoters are holding the government and Nigerians by the jugular. It is very unfortunate”.
The ANLCA President criticised out-going government of President Goodluck Jonathan for embarking on some recent controversial appointments, which he described as deliberate plots to create problems for its successor. “Like many things the out-going government is doing now, I think they are just out to create problems for the new administration. We should be talking about the in-coming government, not the out-going one that is just creating booby-traps all over the place for its successor,” he said.
The ANLCA leader, however, opined that such “booby-traps can be dismantled by the in-coming government if they can put their acts together. “While tackling the issue of the economy, he (in-coming President Muhammadu Buhari) should also be looking into the Maritime Industry. The maritime industry is a very viable avenue for government to meet its revenue needs. If we can raise up to N7 trillion annually from the industry, and our current budget is N4-5 trillion, then we should be able to break even.
“So the in-coming administration should look into all these, all the hurried appointments and commitments they are making now, the first step for them is to repudiate all these actions they know are not in the interest of the common man,” Shittu said. The directive which is seen as very unhealthy monopoly came on the heels of growing concern among stakeholders over the controversial sack of the former MD of the NPA, Mallam Habbib Abdullahi, and his replacement with Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Ado-Bayero, whose family is alleged to have substantial interest in Intels.